2012 - University of Houston
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2012 Biographies

Lindsay Aronstein 

Lindsay Aronstein is the force behind one of the most unique shops for women’s tailored clothing in Houston, Rebecca & Drew. The Houston location is the only store outside of New York.  The shop specializes in custom-tailored button down shirts and shirtdresses that fit according to bra size and height, so the shirts do not gap at the chest or look too boxy in the waist. This patented sizing system called TrioFit has been in existence since 2004. The store also launched this year made to measure suiting for women. 

Lindsay graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in Agricultural Economics. After graduation Lindsay worked as a pharmaceutical sales representative. After ten years in pharmaceuticals, Lindsay opened Rebecca & Drew in Houston in the Fall of 2008. Lindsay enjoys traveling with her husband Scott and they have 3 adorable dogs. 


Jerri F. Babin 

Jerri F. Babin never expected to spend her career in the oil and gas industry, but what an awesome adventure it has turned out to be!  She graduated from Northwestern State University of Louisiana, and after a move to Houston began a career in THE Texas industry – the oil business! 

Having spent the majority of her career with National Oilwell Varco, she has had the opportunity to travel to over 20 foreign countries and has held several positions including Inside Sales Coordination, Middle East Area Sales Coordinator, Sales Manager for Downhole tools, Project Manager and Program Manager for Land rigs.  She is currently Vice President of Strategic Sales Support for Rig Solutions where her team is responsible for all activities that support over 350  global sales people.  All of these career choices have been within NOV – diversity in career choices is one of the most exciting and challenging benefits of working within the oilfield equipment environment for a global fortune 200 company.  Over the course of her career she has also been able to follow her passion of developing young people as they join the oilfield family by participating in the “Next Gen” recruiting program and mentoring the new generation within the industry. 

She has been married to Harry Babin for 34 years and has 2 great children and one grandchild due any day now.  Jerri has also been active in the Society of Professional Women in Petroleum, serving as President for the last two years and honored as SPWP 2010 Woman of Excellence. 


Nandita Berry 

Nandita Berry grew up in Hyderabad, India.  She has a BA from Mt. Carmel College, Bangalore.  She moved to Houston in 1989 and went on to earn an additional BA in Economics, Political Science and History at the University of Houston, as well as a law degree at the University of Houston Law Center. 

Her Cougar commitment was recognized in 2009 when Governor Rick Perry appointed her to the Board of Regents of the University of Houston System, where she serves as Chair of the Audit and Compliance Committee.  She has served on the boards of directors of the Houston Zoo, the South Asian Chamber of Commerce, the Houston Area Women’s Center, and Community Family Centers. 

Nandita currently practices law in the field of commercial transactions, technology and corporate law, with the national law firm of Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell LLP, one of the largest firms in Texas, and one of the top 100 law firms in the nation.  Before joining the firm, Nandita was Senior Counsel at El Paso Corporation, a Fortune 500 company traded on the NYSE, where she practiced corporate, securities, antitrust and technology law.  She started her professional legal career with the law firm of Haynes and Boone, LLP. 

In addition to English, she is fluent in Hindi (the national language of India) and Telugu (the state language of Andhra Pradesh, India).  She is an avid runner, and has completed three marathons.  While at the University of Houston she met and married former Houston City Councilman and current radio talk show host Michael Berry.  They have a five year old son. 


Crystal Brown-Tatum 

Mrs. Crystal Brown-Tatum is the Founder and CEO of Crystal Clear Communications, an award-winning advertising agency and public relations firm whose portfolio boasts work for several Fortune 500 companies. The firm was ranked as a 2006 and 2007 Top 20 Public Relations Firm and named 2007 4th Fastest Growing Woman Owned Businesses in Houston by the Houston Business Journal. 

Crystal is a San Antonio, Texas native and Honors College graduate of The University of Houston with a B.A. in Radio-Television. She has completed post-graduate work in public relations and is the author of a breast cancer memoir entitled Saltwater Taffy and Red High Heels. 

Crystal is the Founder of Sisters Network Shreveport and Bright Starts Corporation named her a 2011 Pink Power Mom, bestowed upon eight breast cancer survivors annually. She is the current 2011-2012 Mrs. Black Louisiana. Other accomplishments include 2005 Emerging-10 award sponsored by the Houston Minority Business Council, 2006 Women on the Move recipient, 2008 Pinnacle Award Finalist from Houston Citizens Chamber of Commerce, Texas Senate Commendation recipient for her community service, Distinguished Achievement Award recipient from the City of San Antonio Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission, and Unsung Hero Award recipient by Sigma Gamma Rho, Gamma Sigma chapter. She was also a 2009 Blazing Star Award Winner from the Women’s Chamber of Commerce of Texas, inaugural 40 under 40 honoree from Houston Business Journal, and a 2010 Most Powerful and Influential Woman in Louisiana honoree by the National Diversity Council. She is married to Sergeant First Class Philip Tatum and has a daughter Jaclyn who is a senior in high school. 


Jennifer Buergermeister 

Jennifer Buergermeister is the founder of the pioneering Houston yoga studio Jennyoga located in River Oaks since July 2007. In the same year Jenny organized Breathe the Cure, Inc. CuraYoga and the newly formed Cura Co-op with Eduardo Krumholz in 2011 is a community space that offers Ayurveda, and all levels and various styles of yoga including donation classes for families, caregivers and patients/survivors of disease. They also collaborated in June 2011 with Jeff Kaplan and Adam Brackman as a donation-only yoga space inside New Living in Rice Village on Kirby. 

Jenny is also the current president and originating founder of One Yoga USA, the Breathe the Cure 501(c) (3), Texas Yoga Association, and Texas Yoga Conference. After completing two full degrees cum laude in Psychology and Journalism at the University of Houston in 1999, Jenny completed her masters at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in Palo Alto, CA in Transpersonal Psychology specializing in Health and Wellness with an emphasis in archetypes and transitions through life’s stages and spirituality. 

Practicing yoga since 1992, Jenny has studied Hatha, Ashtanga, Iyengar, Vinyasa, Anusara and Forrest Yoga with Swami Vidyadhishananda Giri, David Williams, Robert Boustany, Jonny Kest, Shiva Rea, John Friend and Ana Forrest respectively.


Lisa Castañeda 

Lisa Castañeda, a native Houstonian, is a graduate of Texas A&M University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering.  She is presently the Deputy Director for Harris County Toll Road Authority (HCTRA).  In her role in senior level management with the County, Lisa is a key member of a leadership team which defines the vision for growth for the Harris County Toll Road Authority in order to ensure that regional multi-modal mobility needs for a growing population are addressed in a way that supports regional economic development, prioritizes resident and business safety and mobility, and provides for a strategic plan for system growth. 

Lisa is also active in the local community, and she is a member of the Tomball Memorial High School Athletic Booster Club, Canyon Pointe Elementary PTO, and Prince of Peace Catholic Community.


Lisa Chen, MD

Lisa Chen, MD has been a Colorectal Surgeon in Houston since 2000.  She was born in West Virginia and grew up in South Carolina.  She received her BS in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry at Yale University in 1987 and her MD at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University in 1992.  She completed her General Surgery residency at Yale-New Haven Hospital in 1999 and moved to Houston where she completed her colorectal surgery residency at the University of Texas HSC in 2000.  

She met her husband, Yousif Shamoo, 25 years ago, when they were both students at Yale. He is currently a professor at Rice University and teaches biochemistry.  She has two lovely daughters, Raven and Devin, ages 7 and 5.  They are as different as night and day, but both wonderful in their own special way. 

She is active in Shotokan karate, and is a third degree black belt since 2007, currently training at the Trotter YMCA, where she is also a Board member.  She is a former national champion with the USA NKF in the senior advanced women's division in kata in 2003 and a silver medalist from 2008.  She is also shamelessly addicted to knitting.


Suzette T. Caldwell 

Suzette T. Caldwell is Associate Pastor of Windsor Village United Methodist Church, one of the largest and fastest growing churches in Houston and in America. She is also Board Chair and President of The Prayer Institute, a community-based, nonprofit organization that reaches across the globe to pray for people and teach people how to pray more effectively. 

Pastor Suzette has prayed for and taught thousands of people from all walks of life how to command God's will for their lives by praying using the Lord's Prayer and has witnessed miraculous answers to prayer.  Under her leadership, The Prayer Institute has actively carried out its mission to take the world by prayer through its participation in local and national events including the Greater Houston Partnership Annual Business Luncheon, the Global Day of Prayer, and two presidential inaugurations. She has also led prayer campaigns using strategic written prayer which have initiated and sustained powerful changes, including the development of a history-making 234-acre community in underserved central Southwest Houston.   In 2011, Pastor Suzette was recognized as Author of the Year for her book, Praying to Change Your Life, which is on the Best Sellers List for African American authors.  She recently completed her second book, Kingdom Words to Change Your Life. 

A graduate of the University of Houston with a degree in Industrial Engineering, Pastor Suzette served as an environmental engineer in the public and private sectors for more than 14 years and headed her own environmental consulting company.  She is actively involved in the community where she sits on several boards. In 1997, she was appointed to the University of Houston System Board of Regents by then Governor George W. Bush. She has chaired the CityFest Houston Prayer Campaign and Operation Chaplaincy for Hurricane Katrina Victims and has received numerous awards for her leadership and work. She is married to Kirbyjon Caldwell, Senior Pastor of Windsor Village United Methodist Church, and is the mother of three children.


Cris C. Daskevich 

As the executive overseeing the strategic planning, design and operations of the new Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, Cris Daskevich is at the forefront of an exciting new era for the nationally-ranked children’s hospital as it expands into obstetrical and gynecological services. Upon completing her dual master’s degree in healthcare and business administration at University of Houston – Clear Lake, Daskevich began her successful 15-year career at Texas Children’s. As an administrative fellow, Daskevich played an integral role in developing the business plan for the five Texas Children’s Health Centers established throughout Greater Houston, including developing and staffing the $575 million, state-of-the-art, 106-bed women’s hospital under construction in the Texas Medical Center and destined to be among the nation’s premier facilities for women’s, fetal and newborn health.  She also oversees inpatient and outpatient women’s services and provides executive oversight for community-based hospital partnerships and maternal fetal medicine clinics.  

A fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) and active member in Texas Hospital Association (THA) and her alma mater’s Healthcare Administration Alumni Association, she serves in local, state and national leadership roles in these organizations and others.  Among her top honors, Daskevich received the “Early Career Healthcare Executive Award” from ACHE, the “Early Achievement Alumni Award” from University of Houston –Clear Lake, and in 2002, was recognized by Witt/Kieffer and Modern Healthcare with the “Up & Comers” award. 

An Abilene, Texas native, Daskevich and husband, Phillip, have two children, Caroline, 6, and Dillon, 4.  


Vanessa Diane Gilmore 

In 1994 when Judge Vanessa Diane Gilmore was sworn in, she was then the youngest sitting federal judge in the nation.  The native of Silver Spring, Maryland was also the youngest member of her freshman class at her alma mater, Hampton University in Virginia.  Gilmore decided to undertake a career in law after she represented herself in a minor civil lawsuit and won.  She graduated from the University of Houston Law Center in 1981 and began a 13 year tenure at a Houston law firm where she specialized in civil litigation. 

An active member of the Houston civic community, Gilmore was appointed by Governor Ann Richards appointed Gilmore to the Texas Department of Commerce Policy Board in 1991, where she also served as chairperson from 1992 to 1994.  In 1993, she also served as chairperson of Texans for NAFTA, and she worked regularly with diplomatic leaders, including the President of Mexico, to increase U.S. trade opportunities.  Judge Gilmore was nominated to the federal bench by President Bill Clinton in 1994. 

Judge is Gilmore is the co-author of A Boy Named Rocky, a book for the children of incarcerated parents and is a frequent speaker and lecturer on issues related to these children and their families. She has assisted with and instituted initiatives to help these families with access to resources for their children, including the development of a legal clinic at Texas Southern University.  Her latest book, You Can’t Make This Stuff Up: Tales from a Judicial Diva, is an autobiographical look at her life on and off the bench.  She is the recipient of numerous civic awards for community service and currently serves as a member of the Board of Trustees for Hampton University.  Gilmore is currently at work on three books related to adoption, including a children’s book.  She is the proud mother of one son.


Yvette Chargois 

Yvette Chargois is the people editor for The Defender, Houston's Leading Black Information Source.  "Ms. Chag," as she is fondly called, writes the weekly column "Chag's Place," where she has chronicled Houston's black social and professional lifestyles for the past 23 years. 

Additionally, "Chag's Place" events can be seen weekly on ABC Channel 13, CROSSROADS show. Yvette retired from public service after serving 27 years as a public administrator for the City of Houston; however she did not retire from community service.  For the past 25 years, she has chaired the board of directors for the Harris County Precinct One Street Olympics Corporation, a comprehensive, community based youth program.  Additionally, she is an advisory board member for Hope Through Grace, a cancer survival support organization, a member of the board of directors for the Friends of MHMRA, an organization that assists Harris County residents with severe mental illnesses, a founding member of the National Forum for Black Public Administrators-Houston Chapter and a former member of its national board of directors. 

A native Houstonian, Yvette is proud mother of four children, grandmother of seven, and the great-grandmother of five. 


Marcela Donadio 

Marcela Donadio is the Americas Oil & Gas Sector leader and in that capacity, she directs industry initiatives and leads Ernst & Young’s oil and gas partners and professionals across the Americas. 

She has over 35 years of audit and public accounting experience with a strong focus on domestic and international operations in all segments of the energy industry. In her many years in public accounting, Ms. Donadio has gained in-depth experience relevant to the many issues which face global energy companies. She has served energy companies in an advisory and accounting capacity, and as a member of the firm’s Global Oil & Gas Advisory Panel, which helps direct Ernst & Young’s strategy with regard to energy companies. 

Ms. Donadio earned her BS from Louisiana State University. She has also been involved in both state and national affairs and was appointed by Governor Rick Perry to the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy in 2000. In 1984, she was named Outstanding Young Houstonian, joining such illustrious predecessor nominees as Dan Rather and George H.W. Bush. 


Anna C. Dragsbaek, JD 

Anna C. Dragsbaek became aware of the critical role that vaccines play in the health of a community when she worked in a rural hospital as a Peace Corps volunteer in Sierra Leone, West Africa.  Watching children suffer from vaccine preventable diseases, such as tetanus, measles and polio, was an experience that left a deep impression on Anna. 

Later, Anna lived in China where she again witnessed people suffering from vaccine preventable diseases, including severe influenza.  Upon returning to the United States and settling in Houston, Anna pursued her law degree, specializing in Public Health law at the University of Houston, a natural progression from her undergraduate degree in Social Work from Marquette University. As the President/CEO of the Immunization Partnership, Anna works with community partners to ensure that all communities are protected from vaccine-preventable diseases. Anna is very committed to the local and international community, holding past and present board positions on the American Immunization Registry Association, The Confederation of Meningitis Organizations and the Texas Lyceum. Anna also volunteers as a Boy Scout Merit Badge Counselor and specializes in the Citizenship Merit badges. Anna is the proud parent of two boys, who are both fully immunized. 


Bevin Bering Dubrowski 

Bevin Bering Dubrowski is Executive Director of Houston Center for Photography, a nonprofit organization founded in 1981 offering year-round exhibitions, workshops, publications, outreach programs, lectures, and classes. HCP's mission is to increase society's understanding and appreciation of photography and its evolving role in contemporary culture and produces 15 - 20 exhibitions annually on and off-site, balancing work by regional and internationally acclaimed emerging, mid-career, and established artists. Bevin curates exhibitions for HCP and is also editor of spot magazine, a bi-annual journal of photography that includes artist portfolios, interviews, exhibition and book excerpts, and highlights on HCP members' work. 

Prior to joining HCP as Executive Director, Bevin founded the photography division of Bering & James and served as gallery director. Bevin is also a practicing photographer and received her BA in Art History and Visual Arts from Emory University. 

Bevin has reviewed portfolios for FotoFest, Lens Culture/ FotoFest Paris, Photo Nola, and Photo Lucida. She has also recently served as a juror for Critical Mass and the Lens Culture International Exposure Awards and serves on the FotoFest Art Board.


Rola ElSerag, MD 

Rola ElSerag, MD is currently the Medical Director of the Women's Health Center at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston. As Medical Director, she has focused on ensuring outstanding health care to female veterans and improving health care related gender disparities within the VA Healthcare System. In addition, she has also had a strong interest in improving mental health services for female veterans and educating health care providers about the complex mental and psychosocial challenges that female veterans face. 

Dr. Elserag is an associate professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. She received her medical degree at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston and completed Internal Medicine residency training at Baylor College of Medicine. She is very devoted to her three children, aged eleven, nine and six and enjoys traveling, reading and music.


Sarah Fisher 

Sarah Fisher is Co-Founder and CEO of +Works (pronounced Positive Works), a grassroots, parent-driven nonprofit organization on a mission to get ahead of bullying by building positive, upstanding communities. A marketing communications/design professional by trade and a mother of two, Sarah ran an award-winning, one-woman ad agency before joining her husband in his career moves around the world, including three stops in Houston where the Fishers are now happily settled. Sarah co-founded +Works in April 2010 with her best friend of 14 years, Trish Morille and serves as CEO in a 100% pro bono capacity -- with joy. +Works is serving 6,600 children and their families in nine schools (pubic, private, parochial) this year. You can learn more about +Works on their website:  www.positivethinkingworks.org 


Beatrice G. Garza 

Beatrice G. Garza has served as President and CEO of AAMA, the Association for the Advancement of Mexican Americans, since 2008. In this role, she works with a board of directors and 236-member staff committed to inspiring and empowering Latinos to pursue and achieve their unique potential. AAMA’s efforts are focused in the areas of English proficiency, educational attainment, workforce readiness, substance abuse prevention and treatment, and leadership development. A $15 million nonprofit organization, AAMA serves more than 22,000 people annually in Houston, San Antonio, and the Rio Grande Valley. 

Garza currently serves on the board of directors of Boys Town USA and the American Leadership Forum and is the Texas Affiliate Representative to the National Council of La Raza.  She previously served on the boards of the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Houston Wellness Association, and AAMA.   Among the awards she has received are the Trailblazer Award from the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Black Heritage Committee and the Education Impact Award from the East End Chamber of Commerce. 

Prior to her work at AAMA, Garza was Executive General Manager for Human Resources at the Houston Independent School District, and Director of Employment at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital. She earned an MBA from the University of Houston and a bachelor’s degree in education from Stephen F. Austin University.


Curry Glassell 

High on her list of priorities Curry Glassell has made giving a voice to the voiceless the center of her philanthropic work.  Curry’s civic involvement ranges from supporting organizations focused on promoting self- expression through art to those who work at the grassroots level in providing education, human services and equal opportunity to people most in need.   

An art aficionado Curry has served on the boards of the American Friends of Versailles, the Glassell School of Art and the Alley Theatre. Ms. Glassell is a long-time supporter of FotoFest and the Orange Show Foundation.  Curry’s world travels infused her love of art and inspired her to create Studio 314, an art gallery known for showcasing new artists from Texas with antiquities from all over the world.  Most recently, Curry was appointed to Houston’s Film Commission. 

Curry is the Finance Chair for the re-election campaign of Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia. She is also an active member of Mayor Parker’s Finance Council.  Ms. Glassell serves on President Obama’s re-election Finance Committee. 

Outside of her community work Curry’s entrepreneurial endeavors include building and supporting several start-up companies including one located in the city she calls home – Houston, Texas.  Ms. Glassell believes in creating jobs and opportunities to support her city’s economic development. Most recently, Curry invested in Newcoast Entertainment and became a producer of the documentary Backwards and in High Heels, the story of former Texas Governor Ann Richards. 

Curry Glassell, a native New Yorker, graduated from the legendary Parsons /The New School for Social Research in New York City. She is the daughter of the late Alfred Glassell Jr.  Curry is a devoted mother to her two sons, Nathan and Sam. 


Marion Glober 

Past Era Antique Jewelry is famous for its exceptional collection of exquisite pieces from the 17th through 20th centuries, many of which are discovered in Europe by the owner, Marion Glober.  Past Era is the product of Marion’s life-long love of antique jewelry. The daughter of London jewelers, she has had intimate experience with antique jewelry from a very young age and carries on her parents’ tradition of quality and expertise. Marion founded her successful shop in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1973 after years of training in England and the United States. After 20 years as Honolulu’s top antique jewelry dealer, Marion moved to Houston, Texas in 1993, where Past Era has continued to attract customers worldwide. As a long-standing member of the Houston Antique Dealer’s Association (HADA), Marion also has a strong presence in the antique community. She has appeared on the radio and television and lectures extensively on antique jewelry; museums and collectors worldwide seek her expertise. 


Leslie Gauna MEd 

Leslie Gauna M.Ed. lives in Houston where she is an educator, a mother, the director of Houston Playback Theatre and a writer. Leslie Gauna is an adjunct professor in the College of Education at the University of Houston. She was the Literacy Coordinator at Talento Bilingue de Houston organizing monthly events for families to read and write through different art forms. Leslie Gauna has been a writer in residence for Writers in the Schools for the past 10 years. She co-edited ,along with Jo Salas one of the founders of the International School of Playback Theatre, Half of my Heart- La mitad de mi Corazón, a collection of true stories told by immigrants and re-enacted through Playback theatre. Leslie Gauna has been in Houston Playback Theatre since its beginnings, first as an actor and then she became its executive director in 2002. Leslie has used Playback forms in the schools as a way to elicit personal narratives and creative writing at all ages. Leslie Gauna sees Playback theatre as a service to the Houston community, her home for more than twenty years. 


Maureen Hackett 

Maureen O’Gara Hackett is one of America’s most dedicated community volunteers and philanthropists. Maureen shares her time with civic organizations throughout the U.S. She currently serves as Past Chair of the Greater Houston Community Foundation, Director of the Board of the Menninger Clinic, member of MD Anderson Cancer Center Board of Visitors, Trustee of Mental Health America Houston, President of the Mental Health Court Foundation, and is a member of the Governing Council of Rice University Shepherd School of Music. She is Chair of Nantucket Cottage Hospital Foundation, a Director of the Nantucket Dreamland Foundation, Vice Chair of the Center on Philanthropy Board of Visitors at Indiana University Purdue University and is a Director of the Advisory Board of the Alliance for Catholic Education at the University of Notre Dame. Maureen is a graduate of Arizona State University. Before starting her family, Maureen worked in the Healthcare industry, as well as Business Administration. Maureen and her husband Jim have four adult children and recently became grandparents. 


Courtney Hill 

Courtney Hill is a graduate of the Interior Design Program at The University of Texas School of Architecture. Post-graduation, she spent 5 years honing her skills as a designer at two world-renowned Manhattan-based design firms, Victoria Hagan Interiors and Greg Jordan Inc. Hill’s portfolio of residential and commercial projects portrays her unique design style of marrying fine antiques with fresh modern ideas, yet still maintaining functionality to suit her client’s specific needs. 

Courtney is married to Jason Fertitta. They have a daughter, Ella (3 years old), and twins, Vivienne and Alexander (12 months). Courtney is on the MD Anderson Advanced Team Board. She and her husband are proud supporters of the Good Samaritan Foundation, the SPCA of Houston and the Women’s Home of Houston.


Suzette W. Jones, CFP ®, AIF ® 

Suzette (Suzie) is Executive Vice President and Manager of Amegy Bank’s Investments Division where she provides overall leadership to the division’s team of 80 employees representing $10 Billion in assets under supervision comprised of Foreign Exchange Trading, Corporate Investments, Retirement Plan Services, Personal Brokerage, Personal Trust, Real Estate/Oil &Gas Management, Discretionary Managed Investments, and Investment Operations. Prior to joining Amegy Bank in 1995, she was an entrepreneur for 18 years as the founder and CEO of a national educational consulting firm that provided technical training to bankers and their clients over an 18 state area.  

In July 2011, Suzie was recognized as a “2011 Women on the Move” by the Texas Executive Women Organization. In 2009, the Women’s Resource of Greater Houston named Jones as one of Houston’s “Outstanding Women in Banking and Financial Services”.  Suzie is the President and founder of her own 501(c) non profit organization, Flight XXV: Your Passport To College, whose mission is to proactively work with need based students in attaining a high school education and ultimately enrolling in college.  As a result, she was named “Volunteer of the Month” by the Spring Branch Independent School District in May, 2009.  She has also been involved with Habitat for Humanity, Texas Scholars, and Dress For Success.  Suzie attended the University of Houston, is a Certified Financial Planner and a graduate of Class XXV of Leadership Houston.  She and her husband of 26 years have a 22 year old daughter who is a 2011 graduate of TCU and a 19 year old son who is a freshman at TCU. 


Karleen Koen 

Karleen Koen is author of the New York Times bestseller Through a Glass Darkly and of the 2011 release Before Versailles, selected best historical fiction by both the Library Journal and RT Book Reviews. Author of four novels, a long-time writer and award-winning editor, she has served as editor of Houston Home & Garden magazine, managing editor of the University of Houston’s feature magazine and director of editorial services. Ms. Koen teaches a course on the basics of writing the novel for the Writers’ League of Texas and the Continuing Education Department of Rice University and was a writer-in-residence at the Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico in the summer of 2010. Her website is www.karleenkoen.net


Valerae O. Lewis, MD 

Dr. Valerae O. Lewis is an orthopedic surgical oncologist with expertise in treating both children and adults with bone and soft tissue sarcomas of the pelvis and extremities.  A large focus of her work involves developing and refining reconstruction options for knees, hips, shoulders, and other parts of the body after tumor resection. Dr. Lewis is a graduate of Yale University with a degree in Psychobiology and a graduate of Harvard Medical School, Cum Laude. She completed her Orthopedic training at the Harvard Combined Orthopedic Residency Program in Boston, MA and then completed a fellowship in Musculoskeletal Oncology at the University of Chicago. 

In 2000, Dr. Lewis joined The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center as Assistant Professor in the Department of Surgical Oncology, Section of Orthopedic Oncology.  Now an Associate Professor, in 2008 she was appointed Chief of the Section of Orthopedic Oncology in the Division of Surgery.  She has held joint appointments at both Baylor College of Medicine and The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.  In 2010, she was awarded the Dr. John Murray Professorship in Orthopedic Oncology.  On a personal note Dr Lewis has been married to her husband, a radiation oncologist at MD Anderson Cancer Center, since 1993.  She is the mother of twin girls, Isabella and Olivia, who continue to fill her with the joy and inspiration to keep striving and working.


Lynn Mathre 

Lynn Mathre is President and Owner of Asset Management Advisors, Inc., an SEC registered investment adviser, specializing in tax-efficient money management.   Before establishing her firm in 1986, Ms. Mathre served as Managing Partner of a financial planning firm and had several years of tax practice in public accounting.  She received her B.A. in Sociology and Master of Accounting from Rice University. 

She has spoken at numerous industry conferences and has often been the first, and sometimes only, woman represented in a profession that is still male-dominated. She is proud of the fact that two-thirds of her firm’s staff and clients are women. 

Ms. Mathre serves on the board of the United Way of Greater Houston and co-chairs its Women’s Initiative.  She is also a board member of the Greater Houston Women’s Chamber of Commerce, NW Harris County Division of the American Heart Association, and treasurer of the Orange Show Foundation for Visionary Art. Mathre was profiled recently in Texas Monthly Magazine as a 2011 Five Star Wealth Manager and Houston Woman Magazine as one of 2009’s 50 Most Influential Women.


Marianne Taft Marcus, EdD, RN, FAAN 

Dr. Marianne Marcus received her baccalaureate in nursing from Columbia University-Presbyterian Hospital in New York, obtained MA and M.Ed. degrees in nursing education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and her doctorate from the University of Houston.  She served on the nursing faculties of Herbert H. Lehman College and Columbia University prior to accepting her position at the University of Texas at Houston Health Science Center School of Nursing. Dr. Marcus was named Director for the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, Education, and Research at the School of Nursing in 2004. Dr. Marcus' interest in substance abuse began when she opened a primary care clinic at Cenikor Foundation, a therapeutic community.  Through interactions at Cenikor she became aware that nursing curricula provided little content on alcohol, tobacco and other drug abuse issues.  Since 1988, Dr. Marcus has enthusiastically sought to remedy that inadequacy.  

Dr. Marcus recently completed a NIDA R01 behavioral therapies trial to study mindfulness-based meditation as an adjunct to therapeutic community treatment.  Dr. Marcus serves on a number of local, state, national and international advisory panels on substance abuse practice and education.  She received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Texas Research Society on Alcoholism in 2006 was elected to the Teachers College, Columbia University Nursing Alumni Hall of Fame.


Betty Moody 

Betty Moody is the owner and director of Moody Gallery in Houston.  She was born in Memphis, TN and raised in Nashville, TN. She attended the University of Kentucky in Lexington where she received her B.F.A. in 1966. In 1969 she moved to Houston, worked in two different galleries before opening her own in 1975.  In 1984, she and her husband, Bill Steffy, who designed the present building, began construction at the current location on Colquitt Street and moved into the new building in 1985. 

Betty has participated in numerous panels, lectures, workshops and juried exhibitions over the years.  She was also an instructor at the Glassell School of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston from 1975 to 1980.  She and her gallery have received numerous awards, including: Readers Pick, 2007 Ultimate Art Gallery Award, Houston Chronicle, Best Commercial Art Gallery 2006, Best of Houston Award, Houston Press, 2005-2006  International Association of Art Critics USA Award, Best Show in a Commercial Gallery Nationally for the "David Ireland, Jess and Al Souza Exhibition" organized by Moody Gallery, 2004-2005  International Association of Art Critics USA Award, Best Show in a Commercial Gallery Nationally, 2nd place shared with Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago ILL, for "James Drake- City of Tells" exhibition organized by Moody Gallery in 2004, Legend Award 2000, Dallas Visual Arts Center, Dallas, TX. Moody Gallery represents contemporary American artists, with an emphasis on Texas artists. 


Mayor Annise Parker 

A second-generation native Houstonian, she attended Rice University, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts Degree. In the private sector, Ms. Parker spent 20 years working in the oil and gas industry, including 18 years with Mosbacher Energy Company. She also co-owned a retail bookstore for 10 years. 

Mayor Parker is Houston’s 61st Mayor and one of only two women to hold the City’s highest elected office. As the City's chief executive officer, she is responsible for all aspects of the general management of the City and for enforcement of all laws and ordinances. Parker has spent many years in service to the people of Houston, with six years as a City Council member and six years as City Controller. She is the only person in Houston history to hold the offices of council member, controller and mayor.  Mayor Parker has been the recipient of numerous awards during her career, including the 2011 Guardian of the Bay Award from the Galveston Bay Foundation, Scenic Houston’s 2010 Scenic Visionary Award and the 2010 Guardian of the Human Spirit Award from the Holocaust Museum Houston. 

Despite her duties as mayor, Ms. Parker remains active in the Houston community, currently serving on the boards of the Texas Environmental Research Consortium and Houston Galveston Area Council, and as an advisory board member of the Holocaust Museum, Center for Houston’s Future and Montrose Counseling Center. Parker and her life partner Kathy Hubbard have been together for more than 20 years and are advocates for adoption, with two adopted daughters and a son.


Shelly Power 

Shelly Power assumed the position of associate director of Houston Ballet’s Ben Stevenson Academy in 2004. Ms. Power was a scholarship student who studied at the academy from 1978-1982 when she performed with Houston Ballet and director of administration from 1997-2002. Ms. Power graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Houston with a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies, with specializations in psychology and business, received a Certificate of Advanced Training in Nonprofit Management from Case Western University, and graduated with Exemplary ranking in 2011 from Rice University’s Leadership Institute Non-Profit Executives. In 2007, Ms. Power assumed leadership of Houston Ballet’s outreach and education department which now reaches over 30,000 children a year. Most recently she raised helped to raise over $500,000.00 through her affiliation with Pink Ribbons Project. Ms. Power is a 2011 Texas Executive Women’s Women on the Move Honoree. Giving back to Houston has been paramount to Mrs. Power as her love for the city and the opportunities it has afforded her and her family have changed her life. 


Amy R. Ragan 

Amy Ragan built a successful 23-year career in nonprofit fundraising, marketing and special events by working for a number of nonprofit organizations including Amigos de las Americas, Sheltering Arms, The Kinkaid School, Family Services of Greater Houston and Casa de Esperanza de los Ninos. She became the Director of Development for End Hunger Network in November 2004 and remained in that position until March 2008 when she assumed the position of Executive Director. She helped lead End Hunger Network’s $5 million capital campaign to build a multipurpose logistics center and meal processing kitchen that opened in 2006. In October 2008, she helped finalize an official merger between End Hunger Network and the Houston Food Bank. This successful nonprofit merger has resulted in serving more people in need with greater effectiveness and efficiency.  In November 2008, Ms. Ragan assumed the role of Chief Development Officer for the Houston Food Bank where she became responsible for its $55 million capital campaign to purchase and renovate a new warehouse and for managing the fundraising, volunteer services and food donation efforts. Ms. Ragan has been very active with The Junior League of Houston, the Vanderbilt University National Alumni Board and the Kappa Kappa Gamma Alumnae Association. She is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.  Ms. Ragan received her B.A. from Vanderbilt University in 1985. 


Latha Ramchand 

Latha Ramchand is Dean at the C. T. Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston. She has previously served as Associate Dean, Programs and Administration and Associate Dean of Graduate and Professional Programs. In the latter role, she oversaw all of Bauer College's post graduate and professional programs, including faculty and staff who serve the following areas: Master of Business Administration (MBA), Executive MBA Master of Science in Accountancy, Master of Science in Finance, Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) and a variety of professional programs including Energy Certificate Programs. As Associate Dean of Programs and Administration, she was responsible for oversight of all of Bauer's academic programs. 

She is also a Professor of Finance at the C.T. Bauer College of Business and teaches in the areas of Corporate and International Finance and Risk Management. She received her Ph.D. in finance at Northwestern University where she attended the Kellogg Graduate School of Management. She is a gold medalist in Economics from Bombay University where she graduated with a master's degree in Economics. Professor Ramchand has taught in the MBA programs at the Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Northwestern University, the University of Houston and the Indian School of Business. 

Her research interests include international and corporate finance. She has won several awards for her publications including Best Paper Award in International Finance. She is a recipient of the UH Faculty Excellence Proclamation awarded by the Houston City Council (1995). Her publications have appeared in prestigious finance journals and she has presented her work at various national and international conferences. She is a CFA charter holder and is a member of the Houston Society for Financial Analysts.


Rebecca Reyes 

Rebecca Reyes is the CFO for Reytec Construction Resources, Inc. She and her husband started the company in 1996.  She is responsible for planning, implementing, managing and controlling all financial-related activities of the company. Prior to Reytec Construction, Rebecca authored two Cookbooks, Fajita Fiesta and A Mexican Fiesta, with over 600 thousand copies sold she created a line of accompanying products.  Rebecca is an advocate for Young Life in the Houston and Austin Areas. She is the proud mother of Melissa Wilmoth, Mother in-Law to Scott Wilmoth (29), Gregg Reyes (23) George Reyes (19) and the Grandmother of Rebecca Grace Wilmoth (1/4/2012).


Rebecca L. Robertson 

As the Director of Public Policy and Advocacy, Rebecca Robertson leads the ACLU’s legislative and field teams in Texas. On behalf of the ACLU’s thousands of members, she advocates at all levels of government for policies that protect and promote civil liberties. For example, Rebecca testified earlier this year before the Texas State Board of Education urging the adoption of science curriculum free of religious and political ideology. She also testified recently before a Department of Homeland Security task force regarding the dangers of using local police to enforce federal immigration laws. Rebecca is frequently asked to speak to groups around the state on how civil liberties impact our lives, from whether airport body scanners run afoul of the Fourth Amendment, to the rights of children to wear religious attire to school, to the extent to which immigrants are covered by the Bill of Rights. 

Rebecca joined the ACLU after a 15-year career as a litigator. Rebecca was a partner at Baker Botts, LLP, where she served as co-chair of the firm’s securities litigation practice group. While at Baker Botts, Rebecca led the amicus team working on the landmark civil rights case challenging the Texas sodomy law, Texas v. Lawrence. Rebecca has been recognized by both the Houston Bar Association and the State Bar of Texas for her pro bono service. Rebecca is a graduate of the Harvard Law School, where she served as Executive Editor of the Harvard Law Review, and Rice University, where she received her B.A. magna cum laude.


Robin Robinett, DVM 

Dr. Robinett  grew up in Houston ,Texas.  During high school, she showed horses competing in hunter shows. In college and veterinary school she competed in dressage and three day eventing.  She graduated from J. Frank Dobie high school and has a BS in Biology from Texas A&M.  After receiving her BS she worked as a research assistant at MD Anderson Cancer Center in the Department of Surgery for two years, before returning to Texas A&M and starting veterinary school.  She graduated from Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine in 1989. 

Dr. Robinett worked for the Houston SPCA for a year and then opened a small animal and equine ambulatory practice in 1991.  In September 1996, she was certified in animal chiropractic by the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association.  In 2008, she became certified in veterinary acupuncture by the Chi Institute in Florida. 

She opened the Veterinary Chiropractic and Rehabilitation Clinic, PC in October 2008.  The clinic offers chiropractic, acupuncture, nutritional counseling, laser therapy, neuromuscular stimulation, therapeutic ultrasound, therapeutic exercise, and aquatherapy using the Ferno Aquapaws for dogs and Ferno Aquapacer for horses. 

Dr. Robinett has taught a special topics course for Alvin Community College’s Horse Program, entitled Equine Sports Rehabilitation.  In 2010, she was a speaker at the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association Annual Meeting in Phoenix, AZ. 


Sheryl Rapp 

Sheryl Wulfe Rapp was born and raised in Houston, Texas.  A graduate of the University of Texas with a degree in sociology, she began a career in business as a sales professional for Xerox Corporation.  In 2001, she created an investment company with a partner called Rapko, and continues to invest in, develop, and resell residential and commercial properties. 

Sheryl is a dedicated member of the Houston community, striving to make Houston a better place as a graduate of the Center for Houston’s Future and a member of the Greater Houston Partnership.  Over the past 20 years she has served on the boards of numerous philanthropic organizations and volunteered for a host of events, organizations and causes.  A champion for children’s causes, she is a founding member of the Advance Team of M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and serves on the Candlelighter’s Childhood Cancer Family Alliance advisory board.  In 2007, Sheryl and her husband Ernie Rapp created the UP Experience – Unique Perspectives from Unique People.  Up is an engaging and intellectually stimulating event that brings together 16 of the world’s most extraordinary thought leaders, creators, and innovators for one exceptional day.  Sheryl and Ernie designed the UP Experience to bring Houstonians up to speed on a wide range of topics that have included health and longevity, creativity, medical breakthroughs, the importance of sleep, and the psychology of happiness. 

Sheryl has been married to her best friend, Ernie Rapp, for 27 years and is the mother of two wonderful children, Cody, 20 and Carly, 17. 


Shubhra Ramineni 

With a friendly, reassuring voice, award-winning author Shubhra Ramineni shows busy cooks how simple it is to quickly prepare a homemade Indian meal that tastes wonderful, looks elegant and is healthy in her cookbook, Entice with Spice, Easy Indian Recipes for Busy People. Her book is the winner of the 2010 Gourmand Award for Best Indian cookbook in the United States, and is top 4 in the world and has received outstanding reviews.  Shubhra has developed a no-fuss cooking style that recreates authentic Indian flavors using easy techniques and fresh and easily available ingredients. Shubhra also gives plan ahead tips in her nearly 100 recipes with helpful photographs.  Her cookbook is available worldwide at major bookstores such as Barnes & Nobles, Om Bookshop in Delhi, India, and on Amazon.com. 

Shubhra is a first generation Indian-American raised in Houston, TX.  She grew up enjoying healthy, traditional Indian food and she learned to cook from her mother, an excellent home cook and a professional dietitian. Determined to eat well despite her busy schedule as a chemical engineer with an MBA, Shubhra set out to adapt traditional Indian recipes for the lifestyles of today’s professionals, creating dozens of delicious, easy-to-prepare Indian recipes. She teaches Indian cooking classes at Williams-Sonoma, Central Market, Sur La Table, Whole Foods Market and Rice Epicurean stores in Houston and Los Angeles. Shubhra lives in Houston, TX with her husband, Naveen, and their baby, Jaya. More information on her upcoming events and classes can be found at www.enticewithspice.com and you can join her “Entice with Spice” Facebook page and follow her on Twitter @ShubhraRamineni. 


Sima Shakshari 

Sima Shakhsari is the 2010-2012 Postdoctoral Fellow in the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Program at the University of Houston and starts her position as the Assistant Professor in the Women’s and Gender Studies Department at Wellesley College in Fall 2012. She earned her Ph.D. in Cultural and Social Anthropology from Stanford University and has taught Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality and Anthropology courses at the University of California at Berkeley, Stanford University, San Francisco State University, and the University of Houston. Her research interests include the Iranian diaspora, cyberspace, queer studies, immigration, transnational feminist studies, and Middle Eastern Studies. She is currently working on a book manuscript titled Blogging in Times of War: Iranian Diaspora, Gender, and Sexuality in Weblogistan. Shakhsari's new research, which is connected to the larger discursive context of the freedom movements in the Middle East and democratization projects in Iran, explores the way that biopolitics, necropolitics, and geopolitics produce and expend Middle Eastern queer lives in the name of freedom and rights during the “war on terror.” 

Her publications include “Weblogistan goes to war: representational practices, gendered soldiers and neoliberal entrepreneurship in diaspora” (Feminist Review, 2011) “Shuttling Between Bodies and Borders: Transmigration and the Politics of Rightful Killing.” (Transgender Studies Reader II, forthcoming); “Chic of Queer and the Politics of Representation: Cyberspace, War on Terror, and the Hypervisible Iranian Queer” (Queering Middle Eastern Cyberscapes: Journal of Middle Eastern Women’s Studies Special Issue, 2012); and “Women, Gender, and Sexuality in Historiography of Modern Iran,” (co-authored with Afsaneh Najmabadi and Mana Kia, Iran in the 20th Century: Historiography and Political Culture, 2009). 


Miya Shay 

Miya Shay is your typical, overworked journalist who's always juggling several things at once. Currently, she is a reporter KTRK, ABC 13. Miya's main focus is government and politics. You will often find her chasing after politicians at Houston's City Hall or at the State Capitol in Austin. 

Born in China, Miya graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in Broadcast Journalism. She has worked as a television reporter in New York, Alabama, Kansas, and Michigan, where it snows from November to May. 

Since joining the Eyewitness News team in 2002, Miya has covered a variety of stories. She traveled to China twice, once covering the Houston Rockets, and another covering Mayor Bill White. The resulting reports garnered an Emmy Award. Miya travelled extensively during the 2008 Presidential campaign, and is currently spending a lot of time covering Houston's mayoral candidates. Besides her TV reports, Miya also write a weekly column for Houston Community Newspapers, and writes a daily blog. 

Away from work, Miya loves to travel and look for the next cool scuba diving location. She's got a super cute dog. In addition, she spends way too much time on Facebook and Twitter. 


Lisa Trapani Shumate 

Lisa Trapani Shumate is an Emmy Award-winning television veteran.  She is currently the Executive Director and General Manager of Houston Public Media, leading the combined operations of HoustonPBS, the nation’s first educational television station, as well as Houston Public Radio, KUHF News 88.7 and Classical 91.7. Houston Public Media has an annual budget of $25 million, a staff of 165 and 65,000 individual supporters. 

Previously, Shumate served in management positions with both KHOU 11 (Belo/CBS) and KTRK/ABC 13 (Disney).  She was director of programming and marketing for KHOU and executive director of Belo Marketing Solutions in Dallas. During her 11 years with KTRK, she moved from being an anchor, host and producer to manager of marketing and special projects. Shumate is an active member of the Greater Houston Partnership, and involved in an education initiative with the Center for Houston's Future.  Lisa is also the recipient of national and regional awards for community service. 


Bettina Elias Siegel 

Bettina Elias Siegel is a former lawyer, freelance magazine writer and blogger.

A graduate of Yale College and Harvard Law School, Siegel practiced intellectual property and advertising law in New York City for almost a decade before leaving the profession to stay home with her first child.  A few years later, she joined a writing workshop for stay-at-home moms and unexpectedly found herself on a new career path.  Her personal essays and feature writing have since appeared in national magazines such as SELF, Parents, Glamour (Mexico) and the American Bar Association's Litigation magazine, as well as local publications such as the Houston Chronicle, the Examiner and Houston Family magazine. 

With two children in HISD schools, Siegel is also actively involved in trying to improve school food in the district.  A member of the HISD Food Services Parent Advisory Committee and chairperson of the food/nutrition subcommittee of HISD's School Health Advisory Council (SHAC), in early 2010, she launched The Lunch Tray, a widely read, daily blog covering anything related to "kids and food, in school and out" (www.thelunchtray.com).  The blog is now featured on the Huffington Post and has been recognized by Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution as a "Blog of the Month," by Rachel Ray's Yum-O! Foundation and was voted a Circle of Moms "Top 25 Foodie Mom" blog.  The Lunch Tray and/or Siegel have also appeared on NBC Nightly News, Slate magazine, Fox Business Journal, the Atlantic Wire, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the Houston Chronicle.  Siegel has since launched a second blog, The Spork Report (www.thesporkreport.wordpress.com), which appears on the Houston Chronicle's Chron.com site and focuses exclusively on HISD school food news. 

In her free time, Siegel enjoys yoga, reading, cooking and exploring Houston's innumerable ethnic restaurants with her husband and children.  


Donna Stokes 

Professor Stokes is an associate professor of physics at the University of Houston whose research focuses on understanding the structural, optical and electrical properties of semiconductor materials for the development of novel detectors and lasers for infrared applications.  She is also the Undergraduate Academic Advisor for the Department of Physics.


Cynthia (Cindy) B. Taylor 

Cindy Taylor is the president, chief executive officer and a director of Oil States International, Inc., a diversified oilfield services company that trades on the NYSE.  Prior to joining Oil States, Ms. Taylor served as the chief financial officer of L.E. Simmons & Associates, Incorporated (SCF Partners), a private equity firm specializing in oilfield service investments.  It was during her tenure at SCF Partners that she helped lead the effort to merge four private companies and take them public via an initial public offering in 2001 which then became Oil States International.   She previously served as the vice president-controller of Cliffs Drilling, a contract drilling company, from 1992 to 1999 and worked for Ernst & Young in public accounting from 1984 to 1992.  Throughout her public accounting career, she served companies in the energy industry. 

During her tenure, Oil States has grown from a $450 million equity market capitalization to in excess of $4 billion.  In 2005, Oil States was ranked #9 in Forbes magazine’s Top 100 Best Mid-Cap Stocks.  Also during 2005, Oil States ranked #12 in the best-performing IPOs over the period 2001 to 2005.  In 2006, Oil States was also named in the top 100 fastest growing companies by Fortune magazine. 

Cindy is one of only twenty-six female CEOs in the Fortune 1000.  She is currently a director of Tidewater Inc., a global provider of vessels servicing the offshore energy industry.  She received a BBA degree in accounting from Texas A&M University and is a certified public accountant.  She is active in many industry and community organizations, is married to Allan, her husband of twenty-six years, and has three boys.


Susanne Theis 

Susanne joined Discovery Green as Programming Director after 25 years at The Orange Show, sponsor of the city’s popular, off-the-wall Art Car Parade. Susanne is a published writer, art curator and has lectured around the country on Folk and Outsider Art. As Programming Director, she is working to build the programming framework for Discovery Green, and will concentrate on scheduling events and ongoing activities that will appeal to Houston’s diverse community.


Katherine Veneman

Katherine Veneman is an artist who lives and works in Houston, Texas, where she is also the Curator of Education at Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston and oversees Art Focus, the museum’s educational program.  She has exhibited her paintings, drawings, and mixed media works in New England and the East Coast as well as in Texas. In 2010 her work was included in a group exhibition at the Williams Tower entitled The New Black (curator, Sally Sprout); in 2007. she held a solo show at Art League Houston entitled Adaptation. Prior to moving to Houston, Veneman was the Director of Hera Gallery/Hera Educational Foundation in Wakefield, Rhode Island from 2000-2003 and maintained a studio in Providence. Veneman holds an MFA in Painting from American University in Washington, DC, and received her BA in Fine Arts and History from Amherst College, Amherst, Massachusetts. She is a native of the Washington, DC area. 


Harriet Wasserstrum 

Harriet Wasserstrum is President of the Houston/Gulf Coast Chapter of the American Leadership Forum.  American Leadership Forum is a national network of chapters, each dedicated to building stronger communities by joining and strengthening diverse leaders to better serve the public good.  Prior to assuming this role in 2003, Harriet spent 27 years in banking and over that time held a variety of analytical, relationship management, and operations roles.  

Among other community activities, Harriet is on the Council of Executives of ALL KIDS ALLIANCE, the Good Behavior Game Advisory Council, and is Secretary of the National Board of American Leadership Forum.  She previously served on the boards of SEARCH Homeless Services and INROADS and on the Regional Faculty Executive Committee of Houston A+ Challenge.  

Harriet has a B.A. in sociology from Barnard College, Columbia University and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.  Harriet grew up in New York City and has two grown sons.


Carolina Weitzman 

Carolina Weitzman is president and owner of NATEX Architects, where she has been very active in the Houston community as well as serving on several boards appointed by the Mayor of Houston, such as the Houston Zoo, Greenspoint TIRZ, the Cultural Arts Council of Houston and Harris County (now the Houston Arts Alliance), the Memorial City TIRZ and Racing commissioner.  As well, she has been appointed to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Board and received the Female Hispanic Entrepreneur of the Year Award from the Chamber in 2000.  In September of 2005 Ms. Weitzman received the Ana Maria Arias Award for Entrepreneurship from Latina Style Magazine and Wells Fargo at the National Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Convention in Milwaukee.  She is a graduate of the Center for Houston’s Future Leadership Forum focusing on Quality of Place (Houston in the next 20 years) and was past president of the Houston Hispanic Architects and Engineers.  

Ms. Weitzman is married to Sergio Weitzman, a native of Argentina, and has two children, daughter Andre, a recent graduate of the University of Texas in Austin, and son Alejandro Weitzman a recent valedictorian graduate of Stratford High School.  She considers her children her most precious and highest accomplishments. 


Misty White 

Misty White is the Executive Director of the Reliant Energy Foundation.  In this position, she directs strategic giving from the foundation and manages community outreach programs for the company.  Prior to her role in corporate charitable giving, Misty has had management positions in a number of areas including product development, information technology, business transformation and retail strategy.  

Misty received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Trinity College and a master’s degree in business administration from Northwestern University’s J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management.  


Peggy Whitson 

Peggy Whitson received a Bachelor of Science degree in biology/chemistry from Iowa Wesleyan College in 1981, and a doctorate in biochemistry from Rice University in 1985. 

She began her studies at NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC), Houston, Texas, as a National Research Council Resident Research Associate in 1986.  In April 1996, she was selected as an astronaut candidate and started training in August 1996. Upon completing 2 years of training and evaluation, she was assigned technical duties in the Astronaut Office Operations Planning Branch and served as the lead for the Crew Test Support Team in Russia from 1998 to 1999. From November 2003 to March 2005, she served as deputy chief of the Astronaut Office. Also in 2003, she served as commander of the fifth NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) mission. From March 2005 to November 2005, she served as chief of the Station Operations Branch, Astronaut Office. Whitson trained as the backup ISS commander for Expedition 14 from November 2005 to September 2006. 

Whitson completed two 6-month tours of duty aboard the International Space Station, the second as the ISS commander for Expedition 16 in April 2008. This was Whitson's second long-duration spaceflight. She has accumulated 377 days in space between the two missions, the most for any woman. Whitson has also performed a total of six career spacewalks, adding up to 39 hours, 46 minutes, more than any other woman. 

Whitson currently serves as chief of the Astronaut Corps and is responsible for the mission preparation activities and on-orbit support of all International Space Station crews and their support personnel. She is also responsible for organizing the crew interface support for future heavy launch and commercially-provided transport vehicles. 

She is married to Clarence F. Sams, Ph.D. and enjoys weightlifting, biking, basketball and water skiing.


Rebecca White 

Rebecca White has devoted the last 24 years in leadership roles at local nonprofit organizations; presently as the President and Chief Executive Officer for the Houston Area Women’s Center, an agency committed to serving survivors of domestic and sexual violence.  She has more than 20 years of management experience in the nonprofit sector, and has been involved in legislative strategy planning for nonprofit organizations. Rebecca currently serves as a board member of Woman Inc. and through 2011 served as a member of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission’s Allocation Committee for the Texas Council on Family Violence.  She is a member of the American Leadership Forum (Class XXIX), Leadership Houston, United Way Leaders Circle, University of Texas Parents Association, and Women of Wine Charities. In her Leadership Houston experience, she was awarded the Patrice Johnson Distinguished Alumnus Award.  Rebecca received her Bachelor of Arts – English Literature at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri and her Master of Business Administration from the University of Houston.


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